Federally Administered Tribal Areas

"FATA" redirects here. For other uses of the acronym, see FATA (disambiguation).
Federally Administered Tribal Areas
قبائلی علاقہ جات
Administrative Territory of Pakistan
Flag of FATA
Coat of arms of FATA

Location of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Coordinates: 33°0′N 70°10′E / 33.000°N 70.167°E / 33.000; 70.167Coordinates: 33°0′N 70°10′E / 33.000°N 70.167°E / 33.000; 70.167
Country  Pakistan
Administrative unit Federal territory
Components 7 Agencies
6 Frontier Regions
Administrative centre Peshawar
Largest city Parachinar
  Total 27,220 km2 (10,510 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
  Total 4,452,913
  Density 160/km2 (420/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code PK-TA
Website www.fata.gov.pk

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA; Pashto: وسطي قبایلي سیمې، منځنۍ پښتونخوا; Urdu: وفاقی منتظم شدہ قبائیلی علاقہ جات) is a semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, bordering Pakistan's provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to the east and south, and Afghanistan's provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Khost and Paktika to the west and north. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas consist of seven tribal agencies (districts) and six frontier regions, and are directly governed by Pakistan's federal government through a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).

The territory is almost exclusively inhabited by the Pashtuns, who also live in the neighbouring provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Balochistan; they are largely Muslims. The main towns of the territory are Parachinar, Miranshah, Razmak, Kaniguram, Wana, Kalaya, Landi Kotal, Ghalanai and Khaar.


The region was won from the Sikh Empire (which had annexed it during Ranjit Singh's rule) in the 19th century during the British colonial period, and though the British never succeeded in completely calming unrest in the region,[2] it afforded them some protection from Afghanistan.[3] The British Raj attempted to control the population of the annexed tribal regions with the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), which allowed considerable power to govern to local nobles so long as these nobles were willing to meet the needs of the British.[3][4][5] Due to the unchecked discretionary power placed into the hands of the jirga put into place by these nobles and to the human rights violations that ensued, the FCR has come to be known as the "black law."[6] The annexed areas continued under the same governance after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, through the Dominion of Pakistan in 1947 and into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956.[7] Even in the 1970s travellers through the Khyber Pass, such as those taking the Hippie Trail, were warned to stay close to the road because the Pakistani government had no control over the adjacent lands.

According to the United States Institute of Peace, the character of the region underwent a shift beginning in the 1980s with the entry into the region of the Mujahideen and CIA Operation Cyclone, against the Soviet Union prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Soviet Union.[8]

In 2001, the Tehrik-e-Taliban militants began entering into the region.[8] In 2003, Taliban forces sheltered in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas began crossing the border into Afghanistan, attacking military and police.[9] Shkin, Afghanistan is a key location for these frequent battles. This heavily fortified military base has housed mostly American special operations forces since 2002 and is located just six kilometers from the Pakistani border. It is considered the most dangerous location in Afghanistan.[10][11] With the encouragement of the United States, 80,000 Pakistani troops entered the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in March 2004 to search for al-Qaeda operatives. They were met with fierce resistance from Pakistani Taliban.[9] It was not the elders, but the Pakistani Taliban who negotiated a truce with the army, an indication of the extent to which the Pakistani Taliban had taken control.[9] Troops entered the region, into South Waziristan and North Waziristan eight more times between 2004 and 2006 and faced further Pakistani Taliban resistance. Peace accords entered into in 2004 and 2006 set terms whereby the tribesmen in the area would stop attacking Afghanistan and the Pakistanis would halt major military actions against the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, release all prisoners, and permit tribesmen to carry small guns.[9] On 4 June 2007, the National Security Council of Pakistan met to decide the fate of Waziristan and take up a number of political and administrative decisions to control "Talibanization" of the area. The meeting was chaired by President Pervez Musharraf and it was attended by the Chief Ministers and Governors of all four provinces. They discussed the deteriorating law and order situation and the threat posed to state security. To crush the armed militancy in the Tribal regions and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the government decided to intensify and reinforce law enforcement and military activity, take action against certain madrassahs, and jam illegal FM radio stations.[12]


The Federally Administered Tribal Areas are bordered by: Afghanistan to the north and west with the border marked by the Durand Line, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the east, and Balochistan to the south.

The seven Tribal Areas lie in a north-to-south strip that is adjacent to the west side of the six Frontier Regions, which also lie in a north-to-south strip. The areas within each of those two regions are geographically arranged in a sequence from north to south.

The geographical arrangement of the seven Tribal Areas in order from north to south is: Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan, South Waziristan. The geographical arrangement of the six Frontier Regions in order from north to south is: Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan.


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [1]

The total population of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas was estimated in 2000 to be about 3,341,070 people, or roughly 2% of Pakistan's population. Only 3.1% of the population resides in established townships.[13] It is thus the most rural administrative unit in Pakistan. According to 2011 estimates FATA gained 62.1% population over its 1998 figures totaling up to 4,452,913. This is the fourth highest increase in population after Balochistan, Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan.[1] 99.1% of population speaks Pashto language.[14]

Democracy and parliamentary representation

In 1996, the government of Pakistan finally granted the Federally Administered Tribal Areas the long requested "adult franchise", under which every adult would have the right to vote for their own representatives in the Majlis-e-Shoora.[8][15] However, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were not allowed to organize political parties.[15] Islamist candidates were able to campaign through mosques and madrassahs, as a result of which mullahs were elected to represent the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the National Assembly in 1997 and 2002.[8] This was a departure from prior tribal politics, where power was focused in the hands of secular authorities, Maliks.[8]

Women and elections

All of the FATA's adults were legally allowed to vote in the Majlis-e-Shoora of Pakistan under the "adult franchise" granted in 1996.[8] Stephen Tierney, in Accommodating National Identity, reported that women came out to do so in the thousands for the 1997 office, possibly motivated by competition for voter numbers among the tribes.[15] However, Ian Talbot in Pakistan, a Modern History states that elders and religious leaders attempted to prevent female participation by threatening punishment against tribesmen whose women registered, leading to under-registration in the female population.[16] In 2008, the Taliban ordered women in the FATA regions of Bajaur, Kurram and Mohmand not to vote under threat of "serious punishment," while Mangal Bagh, chief of the Lashkar-e-Islam, forbade women to vote in the Jamrud and Bara subdivisions of the Khyber Agency.[17]


The region is controlled by the Federal government of Pakistan and on behalf of the President, the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP) exercises the federal authority in the context of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The Constitution of Pakistan governs the FATA through the same rules which were framed by the British in 1901 as Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The Jurisdiction of Supreme Court and High Court of Pakistan does not extend to FATA and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), according to Article 247 and Article 248, of existing 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly has no power in FATA, and can only exercise its powers in PATA that are part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The Pashtun tribes who inhabit the areas are semi-autonomous and until the fall of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, the tribes had cordial relations with the government.[18]

People of FATA are represented in the Parliament of Pakistan by their elected representatives both in National Assembly of Pakistan and the Senate of Pakistan. FATA has 12 members in the National Assembly and 8 members in the Senate. FATA has no representation in the Provincial Assembly of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Tribal political candidates do have party affiliations but can only contest elections as independents, because the Political Parties Act of Pakistan has not been extended to the FATA. However, tribesmen were given the right to vote in the 1997 general elections despite the absence of the Political Parties Act. The Political Parties Act was implemented by the previous government, and political parties took active part in the general elections of 11 May 2013. Previously only the Tribal Elders or Maliks (called Lungi-holders) were allowed to vote in the elections, since British times.

The administrative head of each tribal agency is the Political Agent who represents the President of Pakistan and the appointed Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Each Tribal Agency, depending on its size, has about two to three Assistant Political Agents, about three to ten Tehsildars and a number of Naib Tehsildars with the requisite supporting staff.

The FRs differ from the agencies only in the chain of command so that each FR is headed by the DC/DCO of the adjacent settled district (DC/DCO Peshawar heads FR Peshawar and so on). Under his supervision there is one Assistant Political Agent and a number of Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars and support staff.

Each Tribal Agency has roughly 2–3,000 Khasadars and levies force of irregulars and up to three to nine wings of the para-military Frontier Corps for maintenance of law and order in the Agency and borders security. The Frontier Corps Force is headed by Pakistan's regular army officers and its soldiers are recruited mostly from the Pashtun tribes.

The militancy situation has, however, improved after successive military operations carried out by Pakistan Army in Bajaur, Swat, Waziristan, Orakzai and Mohmand.

Relations with the Pakistani Military

In 2001 the Pakistani military entered the Federally Administered Tribal Areas for the first time which was previously governed by Frontier Corps. In 2010 The New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow conducted the first comprehensive public opinion survey in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The results showed that when it came to fighting militancy in the region, the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas overwhelmingly support the Pakistani military. Nearly 70 percent back the Pakistani military pursuing Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the Tribal Areas. According to a survey, when asked how the Federally Administered Tribal Areas should be governed 79 percent said it should be governed by the Pakistani military.[19]

Relations with the Pakistani Government

Parliamentarians from tribal areas have taken strong exception to a resolution adopted by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly asking for merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with their province. The Awami National Party have also made similar demands that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These proposals have been opposed by tribal parliamentarians in Islamabad.[20] Should the Federally Administered Tribal Areas become a province of Pakistan, the name Qabailistan has been proposed.[21]

Administrative divisions

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) consist of two types of areas i.e. Tribal Agencies (Tribal Districts) and Frontier Regions (FRs). There are seven Tribal Agencies and six Frontier Regions.

Tribal Agencies

These are (from North to South):

Frontier Regions

These are (from North to South):

Agencies are further divided into Subdivisions, and Tehsils. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas consist of the following divisions:[22]

Agency / FR Subdivision Tehsil
Bajaur Agency Khar Khar
Utman Khel
Nawagai Nawagai
Mohmand Agency Lower Mohmand Yekka Ghund
Praang Ghaar
Upper Mohmand Safi / Lakaro
Khwezai / Baezai
Khyber Agency Jamrud Jamrud
Mulla Gori
Landi Kotal Landi Kotal
Bara Bara
Orakzai Agency Lower Orakzai Lower Orakzai
Central Orakzai
Upper Orakzai Ismailzai
Upper Orakzai
Kurram Agency Lower Kurram Lower Kurram / Alizai
Central Kurram Central Kurram/ Sadda
Upper Kurram Upper Kurram / Parachinar
North Waziristan Agency Mir Ali Mir Ali
Speen Wam
Miranshah Miranshah
Datta Khel
Ghulam Khan
Razmak Razmak
South Waziristan Agency Ladha Ladha
Sarwakai Sarwakai
Wana Wana
Toi Khulla
FR Peshawar FR Peshawar FR Peshawar
FR Kohat FR Kohat FR Kohat
FR Bannu - Mir Ali FR Bannu - Mir Ali FR Bannu - Mir Ali
FR Lakki Marwat FR Lakki Marwat FR Lakki Marwat
FR Tank - Jandola FR Tank - Jandola FR Tank - Jandola
FR Dera Ismail Khan FR Dera Ismail Khan FR Dera Ismail Khan

Frontier Regions

Emblem of FATA
Main article: Frontier Regions

The Frontier Regions are named after their adjacent settled Districts. The administration of the FR is carried out by the DCO / DC of the neighbouring named district. The overall administration of the frontier regions is carried out by the FATA Secretariat, based in Peshawar and reporting to the Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The six regions are:

Main cities and towns of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Bajaur Agency:

Mohmand Agency:

Khyber Agency:

Orakzai Agency:

Kurram Agency:

North Waziristan Agency:

South Waziristan Agency:

Frontier Regions:


District map of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas are the most impoverished part of the nation. Despite being home to 2.4% of Pakistan's population, it makes up only 1.5% of Pakistan's economy with a per capita income of only $663 in 2010[23] only 34% of households managed to rise above the poverty level.[24]

Due to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas' tribal organization, the economy is chiefly pastoral, with some agriculture practiced in the region's few fertile valleys. Its total irrigated land is roughly 1,000 square kilometres. The country does not have a system of banks.[25] The region is a major center for opium trafficking, as well the smuggling of other contraband.[25]

Foreign aid to the region is a difficult proposition, according to Craig Cohen, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Since security is difficult, local nongovernmental organizations are required to distribute aid, but there is a lack of trust amongst NGOs and other powers that hampers distribution. Pakistani NGOs are often targets of violent attacks by Islamist militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Due to the extensive hostility to any hint of foreign influence, the American branch of Save the Children was distributing funding anonymously in the region as of July 2007.[25]


The Federally Administered Tribal Areas contain proved commercially viable reserves of marble, copper, limestone and coal. However, in the current socio-political conditions, there is no chance of their exploitation in a profitable manner.


Industrialization of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas is another route or remedy proposed for rapidly breaking up tribal barriers and promoting integration. The process of industrialization through a policy of public/private partnership would not only provide employment opportunities and economic benefits but also assist in bringing the youth of the tribal area on par with those of developed cities in the rest of the country.

Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs)

The concept of setting up ROZs in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Afghanistan is an element in the United States Government's counter-terrorism and regional economic integration strategies.[26]

Irrigation projects

Water is scarce in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. When the British forces occupied Malakand they started work on the Amandara headworks to divert the Swat River through a tunnel to irrigate the plains of Mardan and Charsadda. The aim was not to get more wheat or sugarcane, but to ‘tame the wild tribes’.

Literacy Map Tribal Areas, Source:[27]

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas do not have a university, but seats are reserved for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas' students in Pakistani universities. There is no concrete plan to establish a full-fledged university within FATA.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas' literacy rate is 22%, which is well below the nationwide rate of 56%. 35.8% of men, and only 7.5% of women receive education, compared to a nationwide 44% of women.[27][28]

Agency Literacy rate 2007[27]
Male Female Total
Khyber 57.2% 10.1% 34.2%
Kurram 37.9% 14.4% 26.5%
South Waziristan 32.3% 4.3% 20%
Orakzai 29.5% 3.4% 17%
Mohmand 28.5% 3.5% 16.6%
Bajaur Agency 27.9% 3.1% 16.5%
North Waziristan (1998)[29] 26.77% 1.47% 15.88%


There is one hospital bed for every 2,179 people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, compared to one in 1,341 in Pakistan as a whole. There is one doctor for every 7,670[30] people compared to one doctor per 1,226 people in Pakistan as a whole. 43% of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas' citizens have access to clean drinking water.[31] Much of the population is suspicious about modern medicine, and some militant groups are openly hostile to vaccinations.

In June 2007, a Pakistani doctor was blown up in his car "after trying to counter the anti-vaccine propaganda of an imam in Bajaur", Pakistani officials told the New York Times.[25]


FATA has a total of 6,050 government education institutions out of which 4,868 are functional. Out of these 4,868 functional institutions, 77 percent (3,729) are primary schools. Total enrolment in government institutions is 612,556 out of which 69 percent are studying at primary stage. Total number of working teachers in FATA is 22,610 out of which 7,540 are female. The survival rate from Grade KG to Grade 5 is 36 percent while the transition rate from primary to middle in public schools in FATA is 64 percent (73 percent for boys and 45 percent for girls).[32]


FATA has produced some world-class cricketers like Shahid Afridi from Khyber Agency and a squash player Maria Toorpakay Wazir from South Waziristan who won the National Women’s Squash championship in 2010. FATA is home to the domestic cricket team FATA Cheetahs. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas cricket team gained first class status in 2015.[33]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Pak population increased by 46.9% between 1998 and 2011". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  2. Rabasa, Angel; Steven Boraz; Peter Chalk (2007). Ungoverned territories: understanding and reducing terrorism risks. RAND. p. 49. ISBN 0-8330-4152-5. The British annexed the area during the nineteenth century but never fully pacified the area.
  3. 1 2 Bjørgo, Tore; John Horgan (2009). Leaving Terrorism Behind: Individual and Collective Disengagement. Taylor & Francis. p. 227. ISBN 0-203-88475-2.
  4. "Analysis: Pakistan's tribal frontiers". BBC. 14 December 2001. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  5. Ali, Shaheen Sardar; Javaid Rehman (2001). Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities of Pakistan: constitutional and legal perspectives. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 0-7007-1159-7.
  6. Ali et al., 52–53.
  7. Tierney, Stephen (2000). Accommodating national identity: new approaches in international and domestic law (21 ed.). Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 190–191. ISBN 90-411-1400-9.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Fair, C. Christine; Nicholas Howenstein; J. Alexander Thier (December 2006). "Troubles on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border". United States Institute of Peace. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Crews, Robert D.; Amin Tarzi (2008). The Taliban and the crisis of Afghanistan. Harvard University Press. p. 231. ISBN 0-674-02690-X.
  10. John Pike. "Fire Base Shkin / Fire Base Checo". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  11. Blackwater: the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army - Jeremy Scahill - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  12. Khan, Ismail (2007). "Plan ready to curb militancy in Fata, settled areas". Newsweek international edition. Dawn.com. Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
  13. http://www.pbs.gov.pk/sites/default/files/other/yearbook2011/Population/16-20.pdf
  14. 1 2 3 Tierney, 206.
  15. Talbot, Ian (1998). Pakistan, a modern history (revised ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-312-21606-8.
  16. "Poll doors closed on a third of FATA women". Indiainfo.com. Press Trust of India. 17 February 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  17. "The Truth About Talibanistan". TIME.com. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  18. "Public Opinion in Pakistan's Tribal Regions". NewAmerica.net. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  19. Bakhtawar Mian (2012-05-09). "Tribal lawmakers oppose move to merge Fata with KP". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  20. "Qabailistan province proposed". Thenews.com.pk. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  21. 'Election Commission of Pakistan'
  22. Archived 8 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. Markey, Daniel S. (2008). Securing Pakistan's Tribal Belt. Council on Foreign Relations. p. 5. ISBN 0-87609-414-0.
  24. 1 2 3 4 Perlez, Jane, "Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Areas Raises Concerns", 16 July 2007, accessed 9 November 2007
  25. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40627.pdf
  26. 1 2 3 http://fata.gov.pk/files/MICS.pdf
  27. Archived 11 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. "Literacy Ratio". Khyberpakhtunkhwa.gov.pk. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  29. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Pakistan_Smart_Book_v1.pdf
  30. "FATA - Official Web Portal". fata.gov.pk. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  31. "Pakistan Education Atlas 2015" (PDF).
  32. "FATA make it to Pakistan's first-class tournament". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
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